Cosmopolitan magazine tweeted the suggestion that white girls should not dream of wearing costumes evoking Moana, the heroine of a Disney animated feature film of the same name that tells the story of a Polynesian girl who dares to break the mold. A tweet from the feminist magazine suggested: “Hey parents: Maybe don’t dress your kids up as Moana this Halloween.”

Reflecting a similar sentiment, Redbook magazine opined: “... you might be saying something like: ‘But, I dressed up as Jasmine as a child, and I’m not a racist!”, or, “It’s just a Halloween costume, please chill the f*ck out.’ But one of the best things about time is that it moves forward. You should too. You can (and should) strive to be better than you were 10, 20, or 30 years ago. If you missed the mark when you were younger, maybe think about using this Halloween as an opportunity to teach your kids about the importance of cultural sensitivity. If your child’s dream costume feels questionable, don’t just throw up your hands and hand over your credit card. You’re the parent here, and the onus of what your child wears falls on you. If your kid wears a racist costume … you’re kind of wearing it too.”

Disney itself has decided to yank a Halloween costume based on the film out of concerns that it might be perceived as racist. Disney released a statement in September that it would no longer sell a boy’s costume for a Polynesian character that some Pacific Islanders have compared to blackface. The costume depicts the revered figure of Maui, who is recalled in Polynesian oral traditions and viewed by some Pacific Islanders as an ancestor. The costume consists of a long-sleeve brown shirt and long pants featuring full-body tattoos. It comes with a fake shark-tooth necklace and green-leaf kilt.

Disney released a statement saying, “The team behind Moana has taken great care to respect the cultures of the Pacific Islands that inspired the film, and we regret that the Maui costume has offended some,” the company said in a statement. “We sincerely apologize and are pulling the costume from our website and stores.”

The acerbic Ben Shapiro, executive director The Daily Wire, responded in a tweet: “First stop telling me to abort them or raise them as gender neutral and then I'll consider your opinion.”

In the case of the costume originally authorized by Disney, it depicted a male Polynesian warrior.



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Martin Barillas is a former US diplomat and the editor of Spero News.

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